HUDSON — Gulf clinched the top seed in Class 5A, District 8 with an impressive effort Friday night behind the right arm of ace Madison Morlan.
The Buccaneers dominated Fivay 8-2 on its own turf with Morlan getting plenty of run support.
“It was important for us because we wanted to make sure teams would have to go through us in this district,” Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner said, “and not the other way around.”
Gulf (15-4) has been getting a balanced effort offensively all season, and Friday was no exception. One night after going hitless in a loss to Sunlake, Tarra Rice laced a first-inning double to help start the scoring. The two-bagger was her first of the season.
Morlan, a sophomore, tossed a complete game, giving up only one earned run on four hits and two walks. Everything from her location to her movement and velocity was working against the Falcons (13-8) as she registered a season-high 14 strikeouts.
“Madison’s a bulldog,” Hohenthaner said. “She has developed into a go-to pitcher in all situations.”
The second run for Fivay came in the bottom of the seventh when Morlan fielded a ground ball back to the mound with one out and two on and threw past the third baseman. The error let a run in, and even though Morlan injured her back on the play, she punched out the next two batters to end the game.
“She actually tweaked her back a little bit on that play,” Hohenthaner said, “but she is real tough.”
Morlan will have spring break, which begins for Pasco County Schools next week, to recuperate.